First it was just a handful conservative rabble-rousers calling out House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney on Tuesday for defying Donald Trump on the coronavirus pandemic, foreign affairs decisions, and other matters.
Then Senator Rand Paul piled on, retweeting Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz’s message calling for her removal and writing that the Wyoming congresswoman’s behaviour was “unacceptable”. Now, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, has pounced.
“We already have one Mitt Romney, we don’t need another,” Mr Trump Jr tweeted, referring to the Utah senator who was the only Republican to vote to convict his father during his impeachment trial earlier this year.
“We also don’t need the endless wars [Ms Cheney] advocates for,” the president’s son wrote, attacking Ms Cheney for her hawkish interventionism in foreign matters, particularly the Middle East. Ms Cheney’s position as conference chairwoman makes her the third-most-powerful lawmaker in her party in that chamber. She is the daughter of George W Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney.
At the House GOP meeting in Washington on Tuesday, several members of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus spoke out against Ms Cheney for her expressed support for White House infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci — whose statements about the coronavirus have often contradicted the president’s — and her support for a GOP primary challenger to Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, Politico has reported.
Freedom Caucus co-founder and Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, who unsuccessfully challenged Congressman Kevin McCarthy for House Minority Leader last year, enumerated several recent examples of Ms Cheney defying Mr Trump or publicly calling him out.
Ms Cheney has been quick in recent months to rebuke the Trump administration amid various foreign policy controversies, such as the president’s abrupt decision last year to pull US troops from Syria and his aides’ handling of intelligence reports that Russia had offered Taliban-linked rebels bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs, who now chairs the Freedom Caucus, urged Ms Cheney and others to praise Mr Trump when he does something they support, but otherwise hold their tongues, Politico reported.
Ms Cheney stood her ground, firing back against Mr Jordan for his staunch brand of conservatism that foiled several GOP initiatives when the party controlled the chamber in previous Congresses.
“I look forward to hearing your comments about being a team player when we’re back in the majority,” Ms Cheney said, Politico reported.
She said that if Mr Massie, who ultimately won his primary match-up, had an issue with some of his colleagues supporting his GOP challenger, he ought to take it up with Mr Trump, who had publicly called for the Kentucky congressman’s removal.